Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dude, you're not Walter Cronkite

A funny thing happened with the death of Whitney Houston last night. Not haha funny like Stevie Wonder ad-libbing "Knowing you can always count on Steve" in his live rendition with Whitney. More like a sad and perverse funny that would be funnier if it didn't occur every single time someone famous passed away.

Houston died, and there was a mad rush to sum up every single contribution and impact she had in the world of music. Helicopters hovered over the Beverly Hilton while each news station offered a contradictory and often erroneous report of the proceedings.

She was still in the room, she wasn't in the room. The party was cancelled, it wasn't cancelled. There was no sign of drug use, but drugs played a big part in her life. Etc, etc. I even heard that the Beverly Hilton was across from the Staples Center, which would be tantamount to saying that Dr. Dre grew up across the street from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

In the last half a year we lost three individuals where the news was wildly out of control when reporting: Steve Jobs, Joe Paterno and now Houston. In each case, the press was quick to assign value to the person's life or were completely erroneous in their reports.... or both.

Steve Jobs went from being mentioned zero times in daily conversation to the greatest inventor since Thomas Edison. Joe Paterno was reported dead when he was actually still alive. Houston is the greatest female pop star ever when I know of a friend who saw her in the past couple years and said it was depressing how shitty her voice was due to her drug abuse.

This isn't to say that I want the press to ignore all the good and focus in on all the bad. I'd rather they just let someone rest in peace, as the ubiquitous saying would go. Instead, we have memorials that mean absolutely nothing. MSNBC didn't tell me anything about Houston that I didn't already know....and that is sort of the point. If someone is famous enough to have their death covered on TV, then there's probably not much that isn't known about the person in the first place.

What's more interesting to consider is how this over-reaction and fast reporting came from. We currently live in a time with twitter, 900 news channels and information at the tips of our fingertips. It wasn't always this way though, and because of that, news and reporting wasn't always the same.

In my opinion, there are three monumental reporting events in the past 50 years. They are: JFK's assassination, the Munich Massacre and the Watergate Scandal. I say that these three events are the biggest reporting events because in each case, we can associate a reporter with the incident.

We all know the look of Walter Cronkite peering over his glasses as he announced JFK dead. We know Jim McKay's famous words of "they're all gone." Woodward and Bernstein became mega-celebrities based on their investigation into Watergate. After that, it all changed.

The technology is one thing, but the star status ascribed to Woodward and Bernstein was another. Now journalists realized that they could be celebrities in addition to reporters. They could have hollywood films made after them where Robert Redford played them. All of a sudden, it wasn't just report the news, it was make the news.

This lead to many erroneous reports and failed attempts to make something newsworthy. E.g., Geraldo opening up Al Capone's vault. Or Geraldo drawing up plans during Desert Storm. Or Geraldo falling down due to a tidal wave. Poor Geraldo.

Therefore its a perfect storm. We don't need news reported to us the same way that we did in 1960, and theres reporters out there making shit up so that they can be the first to report it.

I'll illustrate by asking this simple question. 9/11 was the biggest event of my lifetime. Like with the Kennedy Assassination, people remember where they were when hearing about the attack. 3,000 people died, 1,000 times more than Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston and Joe Paterno combined.

We all know the story. Do you remember what channel you watched 9/11 on? DO you remember who reported it first? Do you remember any significant announcements or declarations from reporters that day?

Me either. The same could be said for the first world trade center bombing, the OKC bombing, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Chernobyl, the Challenger Explosion, WACO, the death of Princess Di or Hurricane Katrina. We have options of where to get our news now, and we don't care where we get it, as long as it's right.

Yet all the reporters are still living in a 1960s ideology. They are going under the idea that they'll be celebrities in a post-Watergate world, but they think that the world works like 1963. It doesn't, we dont know who you are and dont care about you Mr/Ms. Reporter.

This leads to erroneous reports like JoePa being pronounced dead. He's 109 years old. He has lung cancer. He's being given last rights. I don't need to know the exact second he died and I'm not going to remember who reported it first. It was obvious he was going to die within a day. Whenever it happened, it happened.

It leads to statements like "shocking." Again, Paterno's death was far from a surprise. And if you think that a 49 year old who abused hard drugs most of her life dying is shocking, then you need to go back to 5th grade health class. Drugs kill you. Its the lesson between wash your hands and put a condom on your weiner.

This leads to reporters interviewing random people on the street. All of a sudden I'm watching some fat lady I've never seen before say that she remembers her for "that movie with Kevin Costner." You and about 90,000,000 other people, although most of them probably remember the title. What's the point of this? Why don't I just walk to in-n-out and start asking strangers what they think?

This also leads to everyone being their own mini-journalist on facebook or twitter. Guess don't have any special connection with Whitney. You're not the only one who enjoys her music, you're not the only one who owns an Apple, and you're not the only one who watched Penn State football in the past 40 years. When it gets to this point, I'd almost you rather write weird obituaries to your grandma so people can awkwardly "like them."

Reporters try to put celebrity death into perspective, report breaking news and be respectful all at the same time. The problem is that it is impossible to do all three. Let the fans watching at home create their own perspective of what Whitney meant to them.

Beyond that, you can't be respectful and report breaking news at the same time. Why? Because the definition of respect at a time like this would be to leave her alone. I certainly wouldn't want my death reported out to millions of people while they speculate on bull while I lie face down in a hotel room. If I was murdered, maybe...but then we're disrespecting my body. It's impossible.

If I had my way, I'd rather that every celebrity death was reported and that's it. We have great things like wikipedia and YouTube where I can go and research a person's life more if I didn't know much about them. Then I can assign my own level of significance to their life.

Instead, we got helicopters flying over a building, zooming in on random floors, and fools acting like the biggest Houston fan of all-time when the name hasn't come out of their mouth in years.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's Your Fanta-ta-syyyyyy?

"Kramer goes to a fantasy camp. His whole life is a fantasy camp."

The topic is fantasy sports. In particular fantasy football. I've been wanting to write about this subject forever, and there is no better time than now as the season has started (thank god that lockout is over so everyone can get back to their 7 leagues at an average of $5 a piece!) In reality, I could go on, and on, and on about this, and when I eventually don't write a book, this could easily be a chapter, or two, or be the entire book. That being said, I will try to limit this blog to things you may not know or things you hopefully want to hear about.

I'll start off by admitting I'm as guilty as anyone. Why? Because I play fantasy football, albeit reluctantly. That's about where my commonality with the rest of fantasy football players ends though. Many of the things I will write about throughout this blog I do not do. Still, every year, I swear that I'm never playing again, and every year, people ask me to be in, I say no, and they ask again and again, and I say fuck it.

The popularity and prevalence of fantasy makes perfect sense to me, and at the same time, makes no sense. What would be the lure of playing fantasy? The answer: The dream come true of owning your own team, a chance to prove you're knowledgeable about the game (which in reality has nothing to do with it), and getting to compete with your friends. How it blossomed into being bigger than the game itself, makes no sense to me.

We all know how big fantasy is, but let me illustrate it by putting it this way. Think of Bill Parcells. If I told you after Super Bowl XXI, or Super Bowl XXV, or even Super Bowl XXXI where they were runner-ups, that Parcells, one of the best coaches of our generation, would one day be on ESPN's pre game show, you would say "makes sense." If I told you he would play a side role, and would have the same amount of screen time as Matthew Berry, some nerd who never played football and advised people on a game that is played in conjunction with the NFL, you would be thoroughly confused.

(Berry aggravates me more than anyone. Not just because he gets paid to tell people the most obvious things, like Aaron Rodgers is good and Matthew Stafford gets hurt often, but because he is even aware of his meaningless existence. On his twitter he says "I can't believe I get paid for it either." I've reached my boiling point with self-depreciating humor. It was funny in the 90s in Seinfeld when Costanza would sit around and say no women like me, Im unemployed, Im a loser, etc. But when Berry does it, it isn't funny. Additionally, Costanza was a character and had no effect on anyone's life. Berry is real. He does get paid. So he can do his self-depreciating act like "I can't believe I get paid for this," but the fact is, he does. And he's laughing all the way to the bank. And everyone who reads his articles is perpetuating this cycle. It isn't funny - its nauseating.)

So how did fantasy become bigger than the game? How did Berry's opinion become as important and sought after as Paracells or Ditka's? Let's assume that ESPN (and the other networks) did research and found that fantasy is what people want to hear about (if its the other way around, and ESPN is forcing it down our throats, then that's the end of the discussion.) So if it's what people want to hear, again, why is that? As someone who grew up on the game of football, and someone who considers himself somewhat knowledgeable about the intricacies and strategy of the actual game, I find this balance of coverage infuriating.

Again, there is probably an easy answer to this. That is, people dont really care who wins the Jaguars Panthers game, but they care about the impact of the game in their lives, namely, their fantasy teams. I picked two less popular teams, but the reality is, people probably didnt care who won the fucking Packers Saints game last week - they just cared about if Mark Ingram was starting and what they should do with Jordy Nelson. They only care about things that affect them.

But this leads to one of the funny ironies of fantasy football. We assumed that people did fantasy football to prove they're intelligent and know something about football, right? If that's the case, why do they just copy Matthew Berry, or listen to the sage advice of Chris Mortensen or whomever? Doesn't that defeat the purpose? I'm not interested in what Berry thinks you should do with your team, I'm interested in what you do with your team. But that's whats funny (read: stupid and annoying) about fantasy football, people will follow what Berry says and what the projections are, and then act as if it was some stroke of genius on their part.

People get to play their fantasy football teams the same way they play poker and golf. That is, everyone is an idiot or sucks at the game, but everyone thinks they are awesome. You know how people go to Vegas, suck out on Hellmuth, then talk shit to him like they're better than him? That's like losing to the girl in your fantasy league, and then her saying she knows more, or something...(the golf and poker thing is a blog post for another time, one I've been thinking about for a while).

The best thing about fantasy to people is that it offers only reward. If your team sucks, it's the players fault. Eli threw a fucking interception. MJD fell down on the 1 instead of scoring. Cutler got hurt. But if you win, it's all you. The owner is a genius. I lost a game this week because Tom Brady broke the passing record, and the owner said to me "thanks for playing," - like okay, you did it. You're the only person on the world who believed in Brady.

Along those same lines, there is really no knowledge base needed to draft a team. I say this for a few reasons. One, a "ESPN standard" league is 12 teams with a roster of QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, W/R, TE, K, D. So, a total of 108 players. The top 12 QBs. Who the fuck in the world cant name 12 QBs or 100 players in the NFL? So on any day, the 12th best QB (Flacco, Eli, Ryan), could outperform Vick or Rodgers. So what's the point? You might as well play russian roulette. (Conversely, theres one league I enjoy playing in regularly. Its a fantasy baseball league, with I believe 21 roster spots, and 18 teams, for a total of just under 400 players. To illustrate, I am in the final four of the league, and last week Brad Lincoln, Dana Eveland, and Wade Miley were on my starting roster. Im not saying Im some genius in picking those players up, but it shows the depth needed - I don't think we're going to see Billy Bajema on a roster anytime soon.)

Second, when it comes to bench spots, people usually end up taking "best available," - really hard. Finally, in a recent draft, a person who ended up having one of the better teams, selected "Matt" Stafford, and "Chris" Wells, neither of which I heard of before. Fantasy is great to the owner because it takes something that takes no skill or knowledge, masquerades itself as if it did, and then lets the people playing boast about that perceived knowledge.

This isn't to share all my personal horror stories with you, however. I'm certain that you reading at home have gone through several similar incidents in your life. What I wrote was simply to illustrate the allure of fantasy football. If we know what the allure is, we can begin to analyze why that allure exists. That is, why does this fantasy exist?

People love the power/fantasy of owning a team. People love to be knowledgeable. People love to be right. People love to win. It is my theory (and remember I'm not Freud), that people are so attracted to this because they are lacking it in the rest of their life, and are certainly lacking it in the realm of football. You know how when you go to the bar, the loudest person is always the person who knows the least? Well looking at the opposite of that - I'm sure Ditka has no need to own a fantasy team. The person who works in a cubicle all week and reports to his superior and has no creativity/voice and comes home to a nagging wife - fantasy is his outlet. Finally a chance to prove he can do something right!

It may sound like I'm being an asshole, but ESPN thinks of you like this too. Remember when ESPN first got Monday Night Football approximately 3-4 years ago? They featured a series of ads where people suffered through the monotony of their job, all the while they looked forward to MNF. MNF is not fantasy, I know, but close enough. Think of how insulting this is. ESPN thinks of their viewers as a group of people who work at a gas station, animal control, and sit around playing Dungeons & Dragons. They think that their viewers' only excitement in life comes on Monday nights when they view their broadcast. Yeah, my life is so void of joy and excitement that I set an alarm to make sure I don't miss seeing Mike Tirico. What a bunch of condescending bullshit.

But I guess people do think like this. I pity those people. Not because they work dead end jobs at the gas station or for animal control (because after all, Im unemployed and have no room to talk), but because of their need to prove themselves through a fantasy game that has no bearing on real life. It doesn't matter what you do, if you work as a janitor, a teacher, or even for ESPN, you shouldn't have to prove your self-worth through fantasy fucking football. Hate to sound like a parent, but get in the fucking real world.

I was thinking of something the other day that seems unrelated. That is, why people dress up or have theme parties. I never, ever, ever understood this, and probably won't until the day I die. I bring it up because I think it has a commonality with playing fantasy football. While the individual is not proving anything, they're entering a world of fantasy by dressing up.

I understand why women dress up on Halloween. They become sluts because they want to be sluts and show off that they have boobs and it isn't socially acceptable 364 days a year. On Halloween, they can do whatever they want with no rules. Thats easy. Why men ever dress up, I don't know. Men usually dress up in a comedic way, but I still don't get it.

Worst yet is themed parties. I have heard of not one, not two, not three, but five 1920s parties recently. The idea being, you dress up like the Great Gatsby, go to someone's apartment and drink. Whatever happened to, putting on jeans and a T-Shirt and going to someone's apartment to drink? I can't believe anyone has the time, inclination, or money, to go out and buy a wardrobe fitting for a 1920s party (or any theme), and do this. Fraternities had this every single week in college, where every week would be a different theme (and it was one of 91,085 reasons I didn't join one), and I didn't understand it then. I guess if you were the type of person to join a frat, you're also the type of person who has to wear a funny/slutty outfit to the bar to attract the opposite sex.

What does that have to do with fantasy football? Probably nothing, I think I lost my train of thought. But, I think there is an inherent condition of escapism and insecurity that is prevalent in people and this causes them to take fantasy football very seriously, and makes them enjoy dressing up for parties. I'm not perfect, as I of course am insecure and do things to escape. I just don't act those things out in fantasy football and by playing dress up like most people do. That doesn't make me any better or worse, it just makes me different.

So I think my quote at the beginning is almost exactly right on - Except, its the opposite. So many people's lives are so un-fantastical that they have to live fantasies out in another way. I want to clarify that I'm not pinning this on people's careers. I think careers have a small part in this, but there are other outlets for people to get their fill. Relationships, girlfriends/boyfriends, spouses, friends, colleagues, etc, can lead to a fantastic life. So I'm not a degrading piece of shit like ESPN (and the rest of the world) who sums up everyone's net worth based on their career. (Although, since most of the world looks at people's careers and answer to the question 'what do you do' to be the end all be all barometer of a person's worth, maybe people in 'low end' jobs do feel a pressure to be more vocal and are more insecure.....that's society's fault, not mine). That all being said, I think a majority of people have put themselves in a position in their lives where they are not satisfied, and therefore have to live out these fantasies.

People are the opposite of Kramer (which is obviously what made him such a great character). Think about it, would Kramer need to talk shit on a fantasy football message board, and take it to be the end of the world, and listen to Matthew Berry? No. But his whole life is a fantasy camp (he doesn't even wear a tuxedo to the opera). Most peoples lives are so un-fantastical, that they get their fill by participating in the shit I listed above.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where Have You Gone John Bender?

So I've been watching Bachelor Pad. It is single-handedly the most confusing, thought provoking, unintentionally funny show I've ever seen. For those of you unfamiliar with it, allow me to explain......well, wait a minute. I can't explain. That is one of the great things about it. All I can tell you is what I observed:

1) The show would benefit greatly from having an opening where they show the people with their names. Remembering names was never my forte, but I've watched several weeks now, and I couldn't name anyone's name. I'm not saying they NEED to have an opening where Ramsay pretends to hit the contestants around on a pinball machine, but it wouldn't be a bad idea.

2) Everybody, especially the men, look the same (more on this later).

3) It seems to make up the "rules" as it goes along. I never know what the fuck is going on. Are they competing to be the final two? The final one? Are you better off being a flirt, or being mysterious? Sometimes one person gets voted off, sometimes two. Sometimes a team wins a week and receives immunity, sometimes only 2 people. It seems that host Chris Harrison makes it up as he goes along.

4) Did I mention Chris Harrison hosts?

5) The show would benefit greatly from a person who is "normal." Even by just going in and being normal, this person would appear like the biggest asshole ever - he would be the John Bender. [I can't find the subsequent scene where he tells Claire off, but you all know how it goes. "And as far as what's gonna happen when you and me are walking down the halls, you can forget it, cause it's never gonna happen. Just bury your head in the sand and wait for your fucking prom." "I hate you." "Yeah? Good."

I started to think about these people. The second thing I thought of was how people behave differently under the pressure of "hooking up." If you consider a show like "The Real World," where the cast mates are put under the same roof with the only stipulation being that they live together, you see that they go through typical trials and tribulations. That is - they fight, they go out, they get drunk, and one couple hooks up. But, all that they do and go through is more natural. When you put everyone under the same roof in "Bachelor Pad," the stipulation is that they have to hook up with someone else. Therefore, everyone is in "date mode," and therefore, acts like a total tool.

That brings me to the first thing I thought of though. That is, everyone is a total tool. I don't understand why people act the way they do in front of the opposite sex. The guys seemingly will do anything to get with one of the women (non of which are attractive). This basically means worshiping the ground that all the women walk on. Keep in mind that all these people are in their late 20s and early 30s. I think these people are stuck in the old fashioned: "I need to get married, have 2.5 kids, the white picket fence, work a shitty accounting job downtown, have BBQs on the weekend with the family dog, and go with the Joneses to church for Sunday mass." In reality, our generation (Y), marries in their mid-late 30s, goes back to graduate school more often to "achieve their dreams," doesn't believe in God, and doesn't eat meat (I can only prove the first two, the third I'm pretty sure of, and the last I made up).

Let me step back for a second though. I think we can all agree that Bender rules. He's the rebel. He gets in a fight(s) with Principal Vernon. He wears a flannel (which is still more popular than Claire's orange v-neck). He has long hair. He smokes weed. He rearranges the card catalog (having to learn the dewey decimal system in grade school seems like a wee bit waste of time now). And most importantly, he gets the girl.

So Bender is cool. Then why is there a shortage of such characters now (beyond the fact that he was so cool that no one can replicate his behavior). Why didn't "The Breakfast Club" inspire a whole generation of people to behave like Bender? If you're an impressionable male watching that film in 1985, which guy are you going to want to be like? Brian, who doesn't get any girl and has to write the essay for the group? Andy, who gets some nutcase who went through a makeover, and is emasculated by his father? Or Bender, who does what he wants, stands up to his parents/authority, and still gets (presumably) the hottest chick in the school? I would hope everyone would say Bender. Yet, there are no Benders in the world today.

If you watch Bachelor Pad, you will see the sorriest collection of men in the world today. They all weigh 150 pounds. They all have a fo-hawk that peaks in the front, right above their overly-wrinkled forehead. They all wear plaid shirts with ties with v-neck sweaters on top. Worst yet, they are all sorry, apologetic, whiny, pussies. If you haven't seen it, I can't even put it into words how bad it is. This might be an example though. If it helps illustrate, realize that before busting into this serenade, he presented a "promise ring" (his words).

The idea of the producers implementing a Bender character is what got me thinking about this blog in the first place. Why? For the age old question. Would women go for every single guy who wears the same fancy Ralph Lauren/Nautica apparel (or whatever men wear), and constantly sucks up to them, or would they go for the guy who wears a gray t-shirt to the elimination ceremony, belches in public and wants to watch football, and doesn't even want to go out with any of them? There isn't as much drama on "The Pad" as there could be, because every dork is exactly the same (see #2). Its like, will she go with 150 pound blond guy with black sweater from North Carolina, or will she go with 155 pound blond guy with Grey suit from Texas? Either way, everyone loses.

Before we go on. Let me clarify something. I am not naive enough to consider that the bros on "Bachelor Pad" are a 100% accurate representation of the male race in America today. I know that they are extraordinarily lame. Nevertheless, I think they certainly create or perpetuate an image of how men should behave.

Somewhere in recent history, men have seemingly lost their power. Adam Carolla wrote a book recently entitled "In Fifty Years, We'll All be Chicks." Admittedly, I have never read it. That being said, the title speaks volumes to me. And even if his book isn't exactly what I'm imagining, I'm able to glean enough from the title for my own purposes. In fifty years, a majority of us WILL be chicks.

Perhaps I'm assigning my own sexist connotations to the title and terminology, but oh well. What is the traditional ideology of a woman/chick? Sorry to say, but, emotional, forgiving, subservient, dependent. I'm not saying this has to be the way the world works, I'm just saying that's what I imagine Carolla means by "chicks." It's the stereotype. So, don't kill the messenger.

There are a couple of reasons as to why I think men lost our "upper hand."

A) Think of sit-coms in general. In 1950, we had "The Honeymooners," where Ralph Kramden repeatedly threatened to hit his wife so hard that it would send her "to the moon." More sanely, in the 1960s, Ward Cleaver came home every day to Barbara Billingsley, expecting a nice plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. He didn't threaten to hit her, but he expected his food when he walked in from his 9-5 job. Is this the way I want the world to work? No, of course not. This is ridiculous.

One of the more important shows of all time, and I'm not alone in saying this, is "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." The show was sharp, clever, funny, and of course, presented a single, white, female protagonist in a prominent role in society. The theme song speaks for itself, "I'm gonna make it after alllllll!" (Having Ed Asner, Betty White, Cloris Leachmen, and Ted Knight [BUY BUSHWOOD!] doesn't hurt either.)

But now, consider the shows that my generation grew up with (1991 - ). With the exception of "Seinfeld," "Friends," and a few other anomalies, we we're presented with what? A nuclear family, where the father was dumb, blue-collar, interested in sports and drinking beer, and the wife was intelligent, peaceful, artistic, and always right. Most importantly, the man was subservient to the woman.

Think about the show "Home Improvement." In the show, you have the Toolman. What does he do? He's white, he's a man, he's blue collar, he loves cars, he loves fixing shit, he loves the Pistons, and he always puts his foot in the mouth and gets in a fight with Jill. Go through the list of episodes of Home Improvement, and tell me how many times in the end that Jill was wrong and apologized to Tim, and when the opposite happened. I would guess that out of the 204 episodes, the ratio of the apologies would be 4-200 Jill to Tim. In fact, one of the main recurring jokes is that Tim would talk to Wilson for marital advice. Wilson would tell him, Tim would fuck up the recital, and Jill would forgive him regardless.

Did this make the Toolman a bad father? No. He cared. He loved his family. Now, think of the shows (if you've ever seen them), "According to Jim," "Still Standing," and "Yes, Dear." (the last illustrates my point in its title alone). They're all the same. Don't remember which is which, or what the point of any of them are? You're not alone. They're all the same. They all feature a dumb, fat, male character who fucks stuff up and has to apologize to his wife. If Ralph Kramden tried to fix the sink, and messed it up, would he have to apologize to Alice? Sitcoms certainly have changed.

2) Women realized that men like getting laid so much, that they could act a fool, and men would put up with them....(this would be the joke I would make if I were a stand-up comedian. Unfortunately, it's kinda true too.) More seriously, consider......

3) Romantic comedies. What happens in rom-coms? A couple works through difficulties, falls in love, and gets married. Along the way, the man usually has to chase down the woman and set things straight. Ya know, she is about to take a big promotion, or move across America, and the guy has to stop her at the airport terminal, confess his love, pull out an engagement ring, and propose. Again, I have nothing against "getting married," but the rom-coms seem to perpetuate the idea of appeasing women. (sidenote - even a drama like "Good Will Hunting" has this theme. The only problem I have with this film is that Robin Williams and others force Matt Damon to live a traditional life. At the end, he is driving west to go see Skylar. In short, he is an independent, creative thinker, and he is conditioned to go take some lame job and develop a relationship with Skylar. I'm not even sure this is cool. Conversely, you have "Dazed and Confused," which came out three years earlier. In the end, Pink, Wooderson, Slater, and Joey-Lauren Adams drive in Wooderson's Chevelle to Houston for Aerosmith tickets. They are going the opposite of what Coach Conrad, O'Bannion, Benny, the old guy at the baseball stadium, and probably even Don Dawson want them to do. That is what makes the ending of Dazed so much better than Good Will Hunting, and such a better film overall.

Second off, when did rom-coms as we know them start? Kind of with Woody Allen in the mid to late 1970s (who was known as a neurotic, Jewish, weak, appeasing male.) After that, I'm not quite sure. It's safe to say, however, that they are a recent development (last 25 years at least......maybe with "When Harry Met Sally")? Before that, there of course existed screwball man-woman relationship comedies. "It Happened One Night" (1934), "Some Like it Hot," (1958), and "Pillow Talk" (1959), are all such examples of early "rom-coms." That being said, the men in those films do not bend over backwards for women the way that Matthew McConaughey does in his films. Actually, they try to deceive and trick women so they can fuck them (Rock Hudson does this in 'Pillow Talk', as does Tony Curtis in 'Some Like it Hot,' so he can bang Marilyn Monroe.) Therefore, they aren't traditional rom-coms, where the male changes to please the woman and court her.

When you combine those three factors, it is hard to put your finger on when men went from dominant to subservient. I don't know the exact date. I don't think there was one, but instead, it was just a gradual degradation.

The main question though, is what do women prefer? I think I have figured women out (I write this generic statement as a signal to women so that they can get ready to send me hate mail). I think women want both. Just like men, women are human. Therefore, they want power. They want power in the workplace, they want to earn money, they want the Mary Tyler Moore lifestyle of being an independent woman, and they even want power over a significant other. Therefore, they love that men grovel to them.

Consider this. On "Bachelor Pad," some woman (I told you, I'm not good with names), went on a skiing date with another guy, despite having a "serious" relationship back at the house. There, they spent the night in a log cabin, and made out by a fireplace (boom!). When she returns, she immediately tells her boyfriend that she kissed the guy. Does the boyfriend 'go Bender' on the chick, and tell her she's a slut/whore/bitch/C-word, and tell her he never wants to see her again? No............. He curses the guy's name, and becomes even more subservient to the chick. It's all the guys fault! He mumbles a bunch of shit in an attempt to be romantic, and pledges his allegiance to the woman. Am I the only one that is totally and utterly fucking confused by this?!?!? What the fuck would Paul Newman do to a chick that went away on a skiing trip and made out with another guy (ignore the fact that people in 1960 were cooler and didn't go skiing, and reality TV didn't exist).

She loved this. She started to cry over the fact that she had a difficult decision. Yes, the woman who betrayed her man and made out with another, cried as if she was the victim. That being said, could you blame her? She got attention from her original boyfriend as a result. Why wouldnt you cry to get attention? Why wouldn't you over-dramatize every daily occurrence at work to get attention from your boss, or your boyfriend at home? As long as men continue to give attention to the women, they will continue to do it. Why? They love attention, they love power. Men do too, women just get stuck with the stereotype. (There's an early episode of "Mad Men," set in 1960, where Don Draper implores women to go to the bathroom and cry in private if they're going to cry. I can't remember the episode or find a clip. If you're unfamiliar with "Mad Men," or their accurate representation of man-woman relationships in the early 1960s, watch this.

On the other hand, women still love to be catered to. They love the idea that they're a princess, and that they're special. See my blog post here, about the duality of feminist women (the Royal Wedding Part). Therefore, I revisit my original hypothesis from that post; women want to have their cake and eat it too. But regardless, what does that have to do with men and how they behave?

Men have become deathly afraid of women. Men have become the ones who are scared of being alone in their life. In 1960, it was normal for June Clever to study home-ec, know how to make a pot roast, make sure Wally and Beaver got off to school on time, and most importantly, made sure that dinner was on the table in time for Ward when he got home. Women were conditioned to be subservient to a man. Men were the breadwinners, women relied on the men. Therefore, men were in power.

Now, women want the power (even if they're not the breadwinner, which is fine - being in power doesn't necessitate having to be the breadwinner). That being said, women are new to power. They don't know how to handle it. They don't know what they want (stop me if you've heard that before). They're torn between wanting to be the powerful, in control woman, and being catered to. They give and they take. They want their cake and want to eat it too.

That isn't important to me though. What's important is how men react to it. Why is it that men have become a society of 160 pound guys who apologize to women when the woman makes out with another man? Why aren't there more John Benders in the world?

My ideas are as follows: 1) when women showed the slightest hint of power, men became so scared that they would not get laid, that they took the easy way out, and started to cater to women. 2) After that happened, our media (rom-coms and sit-coms) perpetuated the ideology that men should be subservient to women. Men are always dumber than women and should always be apologetic to them whenever things go wrong in a relationship. After all, women always know everything about relationships and how they work, and men don't. That's why everyone is 33 and not married, but is looking, right?

But my main question remains. I think a lot of this would be answered if "Bachelor Pad" introduced a "Bender Character" to the show. Which would they go for? Do the women really want the power, and therefore want the subservient, romantic, appeasing male? Or do they want the asshole, tells-it-like-it-is, jerk? I think that in the long run, marriage scenario (which "The Pad" is), women would go for a dork type who worships the ground they walk on. One night stand? Bender. The funny thing, however, is that if you polled women, 9/10 would say the former. Why? I don't know. They don't want to disrespect themselves? They want to elevate their status? Yet, we all know, the woman is eventually drawn to "the guy who treats her like shit."

Wait a minute.............why am I trying to figure out women?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Official "Hes Not Supposed to be Here List!"

First, although its not explicitly said, here are a few "Hes Not Supposed to be here Moments." One, and two. And for good measure: three.

But what is the "Hes Not supposed to be here" equivalent for college football? Forget Boise State, Utah, TCU, all those teams. That "non-AQ" bullshit's ship has sailed. We get it, they're good teams. But let me ask you this - was it really surprising that TCU made the BCS last year? Probably not, since they were #6 preseason. Had Boise won against Nevada, it wouldnt have been a surprise since they were preseason #3. Actually, the fact that it was surprising Boise lost to Nevada and DIDNT make the BCS is an indication that those non-AQs just arent surprising anymore.

To me, what is more surprising is when the mid ranked BCS teams end up winning their conference (or making a BCS bowl). This happens every single year. Last year, Auburn was ranked #22 preseason, and went on to win the title. Michigan State was NR, and went 11-1 to split the Big10 title. UConn was NR (the entire year), and played in the Fiesta Bowl. Two years ago, Iowa was #22, and went on to win the Orange Bowl. Illinois, NR, makes Rose Bowl in 07. Kansas, NR, makes Orange Bowl in 07. Wake Forest, NR, in 2006, goes to the ORange Bowl.

The list goes on and on and on. You get the picture. To me, all these cases are more surprising than TCU, Boise, or Utah. So who are the teams that are going to qualify for the Hes Not Supposed to be here award in 2011? For the criteria, I'm only looking at teams ranked between 20-25, or not ranked. I will give one team for every conference.

ACC: Clemson

Clemson returns fourteen starters from a team that had trouble winning the close games last year. Clemson went 1-4 in games decided by less than 7 points (including an OT loss to Auburn). They played good defense the entire season, and return nine starters on offense.

Clemson should know very quickly where they stand in the ACC. They face Troy, Wofford, and Auburn, all at home, to start. Then, they host Florida State (who will be coming off their game vs Oklahoma). The next week, they travel to Virginia Tech. Those two games will be huge to Clemson's chances of winning the ACC. The rest of their ACC slate is manageable, and they could run the table after that.

Honorable Mention: North Carolina

Big East: Cincinnati

Nearly all the teams qualify for my criteria in the Big East. BUt since WV, Pitt and USF seem to be the frontrunners, I'll refrain from choosing them. Instead, Ill take Cinci. One year after going to a Sugar Bowl, the BEarcats finished a disappointing 4-8 with new head coach Butch Jones. They could challenge Pittsburgh for having the best defense in the conference (they return 10 starters), and figure to have the best offense in the conference. They have to travel to Tampa and Pitt, but host WV in Paul Brown Stadium. As we've seen in the past, however, a couple of losses does not necessarily spoil your chances to win the Big East.

Honorable Mention: Uconn, I guess

Big Ten: Illinois

Illinois finally has a schedule suited to success. For the first time in four years, they do not play Mizzou in St. Louis to start the season (they went 0-4). Instead, they play host to four non-conference games; Ark State, South Dakota State, Arizona State, and Western Michigan. Clearly, 3-1 has to be the worst possible start for the Illini.

While that is just non-conference, the conference schedule sets up equally nice. Phil Steele figures that the three toughest team from the Legends division are going to be Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan State. Illinois avoids all three. Instead, they draw Northwestern, Michigan, and Minnesota, and only Minnesota is on the road.

***Quick Sidebar. Easy way to remember divisions; Legends div is "Iowa, The M's, and the N's - Michigan, MSU, Minny, Nebraska, and Northwestern. Leaders is the others: Illinois, Wisky, Purdue, Indy, OSU, PSU.

Inside their division; they host Ohio State and host Wisconsin. They have to go to Penn State, who they dominated in 2010, outgaining them 437-235 (at Penn State as well). All in all, Illinois has four road games. Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, and Minnesota. They are definitely better than 3 of those teams.

They return 13 starters. QB Scheelhaase played great as a true freshman. Their offensive line is made up of five men who are all 6'5" 300+. Even after losing LeShoure, the offense should maintain their tradition of being a very potent rush offense.

Defensively, the front 7 is a slight concern. Losing your main run stopper in Liuget, and your best LB in Wilson is not good. They have talent in Akeem Spence and Michael Buchanan on the front line, but depth is a concern. The entire defensive backfield is back. The encouraging part is that DC Vic Koening seems to have taught the team how to tackle. After years of losing one-on-ones in open space, Illinois immediately showed improvement on defense against Mizzou in the first game. This continued throughout most of the year (sans Michigan and the 4th quarter vs Minnesota), and culminated in a beat down against Baylor. They also use multiple packages and a rover position that makes the defense look a bit more like a 4-2-5.

It isn't unreasonable to think that the Illini can be 6-0 going into the game vs OSU (they would have to beat ASU and NW at home, and win at INdiana). After that, the sky is the limit. This can be a 6-2 Big Ten team.

Honorable Mention: Penn State. Which reminds me, I get pretty pissed off when everyone says NW is going to be the sleeper team. Maybe they will be better, yes, (they do avoid Ohio State and Wisconsin). But did people watch the last two games of theirs? They gave up 118 points combined to Illinois and Wisconsin. In both games, they gave up 559 yards.

Big 12: Kansas State

This was a hard one to pick, as OU figures to run over the Big12 (and you know I hate them). Additionally, TAMU, Okie State, and Texas are all ranked highly. Therefore, it was down to KSU and Mizzou, and Ill give the edge to the Wildcats.

While it is Bill Snyders 20th year at KSU, it is only the third of his current stint. This means he is finally playing with mostly his talent, and has had solid recruiting classes. They return 13 starters, and should be better than the team that got screwed in the Pinstripe Bowl last year. True, they lose their team MVP Daniel Thomas, but Steele figures for their defense to be much improved. The Wildcats started 4-0 last year, before entering Big12 play. There, they got beat up by Nebraska, and slipped up against Colorado, but they played Mizzou and Okie State tough.

This year, they host Baylor and Mizzou, which figure to be two important swing games. They go to Texas Tech and Kansas, both teams they should be better than. They host Texas AM and Oklahoma (on Homecoming, upset alertz). Their toughest games should be Am, OU, and traveling to Austin and Stillwater. This is a team that can finish 9-3.

Honorable Mention: Texas Tech

Pac-12: Washington

The Huskies won their last 3 regular season games last year, then kicked the shit out of Nebraska. How bad was it? In September in Seattle, the Huskies gave up 56 points on 533 yards. In December, they gave up 7 points on 189 yards. THats improvement. THey have 8 starters back.

Offensively, they return 1400 yard rusher Chris Polk, and three offensive linemen. Everyone will point to the loss of Jake Locker. True, they will be inexperienced at QB, but having Polk and a talented receiving corps helps (Jermain Kearse is the third leading receiver returning in the Pac-12). But, as coach ditka says. You have to run the ball and stop the run. Washington can do both. They avoid Arizona State and UCLA out of the south, so Ive seen worse schedules, despite having to go to USC and Stanford (they host Oregon).

Honorable Mention: UCLA, especially since they only have to beat out four opponents to make a Pac-12 title game.

SEC: Mississippi State

This selection comes almost as default, as there are a ridiculous 8 SEC teams ranked, and I don't see Vanderbilt winning the title. Allow me to elaborate further though.

Mississippi State was good last year. They went 9-4 in the toughest division in football. Their four losses were to Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU (they werent blowouts either, they lost to Auburn by 3, and Arkansas in 2ot in the worst gambling loss of the year for me). This year, they return 16 starters, and are under the third year of Dan Mullen. Last year, RB Vick Ballard and QB Chris Reif combined for 1874 rushing yards. This year, both return, along with 4 starters on the offensive line.

They travel to Memphis and Auburn to start the season. They should be 2-0. Then, in their home opener, they host LSU on a Thursday night. While they have to travel to UGA and to War Memorial for Arkansas, they host South Carolina, Alabama, and the aforementioned LSU. This team has 10-2 potential.

Honorable Mention: Tennessee

Bonus Picks: Here are 3 more quick non-AQs that could run the table and be in the BCS:

1. Houston: Loaded on offense, and theyll welcome QB Case Keenum back after he missed 90% of last season. Theyll need to improve on defense to win out (if you remember in 09, they started 3-0, beating Okie State and Texas Tech. As a result, they were ranked #12! They lost the next week to UTEP 41-58).

2. Southern Miss: 14 returning starters. A defense that figures to improve off a 8-5 season. Senior QB Austin Davis. A cupcake schedule. All combine to make them a legit threat to run the table. Houston and S. Miss dont play each other in the regular season. The thought of a combined 24-0 C-USA title game, as all the pundits argue whether the winner should be in the BCS is enough to make Mark May's head explode, which makes me excited.

3. Air Force: The schedule is tough, but so are the Falcons. They travel to ND, Boise, and Navy, and they host TCU. They return 14 starters from a 9-4 team. They played Oklahoma to 3 points last year. They lost to Utah by 5, and SDSU by 2, otherwise they would have had a 10 win season last year. They're led by a senior QB in Time Jefferson, and they have no glaring weaknesses. They are capable of pulling an upset or two, and being 10+ wins.

So if any of these teams makes a BCS game, I'll be happy. Remember, these are longshots. They're not supposed to be here. Just thought you'd like something different than the "Its gonna be Alabama Oklahoma, and it''ll be Nebraska, Oregon, Va Tech winning their conferences, and "sleepers" are Texas AM, Arkansas, and Georgia."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Using The Prisoner's Dilemma to explain "Bros before Hoes" and relationships

First, let's get this out of the way. I watched the premiere of "Jersey Shore" last week (I have yet to watch episode 2). "JS" is one of the more fascinating shows to me on television. First off, it totally qualifies for the sarcastic watching that I described in a previous blog. If you don't want to read the post, just realize that the point is: 'we watch cause it sucks.' Despite this, the show got SO awful a few episodes into Season 3, that I stopped watching.

This qualifies it for another odd statistic. The show took less than two seasons to go from the best show on tv, to totally unwatchable. Lets say it started to take off halfway through season 1, was on top through season 2, and a couple of episodes into season 3, it wasnt so bad it was good, it was so bad it was unwatchable. I can't really remember any other series having this sort of arc. Usually shows are just: 1) good, 2) good but unappreciated and ultimately canceled, 3) bad so they are cancelled, 4) so bad that they remain on TV (most reality TV). The point is, is that there is a fine line between #3 and #4. Bad so they are cancelled: The World According to Paris. Bad so people watch it: Kardashians. Bad its cancelled: Living Lohan. Bad we watch it: Bridezillas (and this is just for reality shows). Somehow, to me, JS fell into 3 and 4 in a couple short years.

But I decided to give "JS" one more shot. Did I expect anything different other than the crew being in Italy instead of Jersey? No. Did I get anything different? No. Was I nevertheless entertained? Somehow, yes.

Ten minutes into the episode, as all the characters were getting ready to go to the airport, I commented that the show "sucked so bad." It wasn't entertaining at all. It seemed scripted (which of course isn't out of the realm of possibility). This is what made the show get shitty in the first place. Too many catch phrases written by MTV 'writers' in the same vein of grenades, gorillas, thirsty, sweating, whatever. When Situation called a girl a grenade in an early episode, I genuinely believed that he used that word in his everyday lexicon, which made it funny. When I see Snooki standing in front of the mirror and saying "I hope there are a bunch of gorillas in Florence," I had no believability, which makes it painful.

However, the episode progressed, and I became entertained again. Why? Because of the drama. Call me stupid, but I dont care if its: take a pregame shot, get in the cabs, dance at the club, get in a fight, repeat. Thats what made the show so enjoyable to begin with. I won't go into too many details of the show, but I felt it. Here are a few predictions/observations for the new season:

1) J-Woww lost about 20-25 pounds.

2) That weight loss seems to have found itself on Sammi.

3) The show will be similar to Real World: Seattle. On that season, the crew never went out because the show had become so big, and citizens always ruined it. Anywhere they went, there would be some idiot in the background lifting his shirt up, or yelling out to get on camera (this was in 1998, when a majority of people finally had a nice 28k dial-up modem to surf the net, celebrity was becoming bigger and bigger with shows like TRL, and of course, thanks to Real World resident Irene, lyme disease was brought to the nation's attention). I'm not saying that the Italians are going to behave the same way in which the Seattleites behaved in 1998, I'm just saying that the show seems constricted at this point. To support this, consider the relationships. Pauly wants to go out with Deena. Sitch wants to go out with Snooki. Sammi and Ronnie obvz wanna go out with each other. The only thing stopping the 4 for 4 is a Vinnie JWoww hook up, and somehow, JWoww solidifies herself as the classiest of the eight by abstaining from this.

Now. Are we to really believe that these people cant find anyone else, and have to hook up with someone else in the house? That Pauly travelled 7,000 miles to Italy, just to fall in love with the girl that was living 10 feet away from him last year? Or Sitch, who is a self-proclaimed ladies man, would touch Snooki with a 10 foot pole? With all the celebrity these guys have acquired, they can't find one decent looking, half respectable girl in two combined continents? While I may be giving all the men too much credit, I refuse to believe that fact. Therefore, I feel these relationships are a product of MTV writing, which is caused by some sort of a constraint from being in Italy.

4) Finally. This prediction shouldnt even elicit a bullet point. Sammi will hook up with Ronnie. And they'll get back together.

On the surprise spectrum, I put this fact somewhere in the tier of: death, taxes, and the sun coming up in the morning.

But it got me thinking about something else. As the men fist pumped on the dance floor, and everyone exclaimed: "I cant wait to see and party with Single-Ronnie," I thought about the old adage "bros before hoes." I didnt think of it because Im a major advocate of the adage, or I thought Ronnie should/shouldn't follow it, I just thought of it. Then, when I was driving, I thought of something that could explain this term's existence, and why it is seldom followed (I always think of my blog posts while Im driving, btw. Not coincidentally, I have 3 moving violations in the past 12 months). The term exists, will continue to exist, and will continue to be broken because of one simple phenomenon in game theory: The Prisoner's Dilemma.

Simply put, the "PD" is something that causes two people to not cooperate, even if it is in their best interest to do so. A spin off of it is: "each person acting in their best interest, produces a less than ideal result." A better way to explain it would be to explain the game:

Two people are arrested for a crime. They are held in separate rooms. The police tell the following to each person: " If one person tells on the other, and the other remains silent, the person who tells will go free, and the silent person will go to jail for twenty years. If neither person talks, they each go to prison for one year. If they both tell on the other, they each go to jail for 5 years." Got it? To clarify, here is a nice table that someone else did to explain.

First, lets agree that the ideal scenario is in the bottom right. Each prisoner serving one year equals the least total time served by far. Out of four individual options, it is second best (0, 1, 5, 20 years).

If you look at the table, you see that Prisoner A benefits by telling (confessing), NO MATTER what Prisoner B does. Look at the left column, and read from bottom to top. If Prisoner A remains silent, while B confesses, A gets locked up for 20 years. If A confesses, and B confesses, A only goes to prison for 5 years. Therefore, he is improving his expected sentence by 15 years. The same is true if B stays quiet. Look at the right column, bottom to top. If A stays silent, 1 year, if he talks, 0. Therefore....

No matter what B does, A feels he benefits from confessing. He either improves his sentence 15 years, or 1 year. Therefore, A talks.

That being said, Prisoner B is going through the same thought process, and rightfully so. You can analyze his position by looking at the top row, reading right to left. He goes from 20 years to 5. Then, bottom row, right to left; 1 year to 0, the same way A did. Therefore, he feels it is in HIS best interest to confess.

So what happens? Both confess....which produces the top left square - they each serve 5 years. This isn't the ideal situation we discussed, where both serve one year and are out. Therefore, each acting in their own best interest, produce the non-ideal result. Hence, the prisoners dilemma.

The transition from this to "Bros before Hoes" may be obvious, but I'll go through it. First, I feel that every person has both been a victim of, and a perpetrator of "BBH." We've all been in a position where our friends start dating a girl and stop hanging out with us, and, although we may not like to admit it, commit the same injustices against our friends. We all know the phrase. We all know the pain. It is why Judd Apatow has any films. We're all familiar with this concept.

Why does it continue to exist though? If everyone is familiar with BBH, and supposedly follows it like the bible, why is there a consistent breach of the mantra? Why arent we just a bunch of bros always hanging out, playing XBox, drinking Nattys, and having an occasional hook up? (I want to point out at this point that you think I'm going to get sexist with this article. But I wont. Im not gonna blame the breach of BBH on women, Im gonna blame it on men. It has nothing to do with women forcing mens hands at relationships or marriage as some men (Judd Apatow) would like the world to think. Women dont make us throw away our action figures, wear a tie to meet their parents, and make you take them out to a restaurant even though theres a meaningless WAC game on a saturday night you want to watch...its men doing this. Rest assured ladies, I'm not getting sexist with the article, yet....)

So we preach BBH, but we dont follow it. Why? Because a) we want to act in our own best interests (obviously), and b) all things considered, it is better to have a relationship.

What if I hit you with this: "youre sitting at home on a saturday at 4 PM. You and your roomate can each go out with a girl that night, and have to decide independently whether or not to do so(this is starting to sound like an episode of "Threes Company.") If you each stay in, you each qualify for the BBH award, and will have a great night of drinking, video games, dominos pizza, barhopping, and could even have meaningless sex with a woman whose name you cannot remember (this would be the bottom right square, the ideal square). If you both go out, your nights will be a typical date - potential for fun, but "obvz not as good as hanging with your bros in the long run, but at least I got some pussy bro"* - this would be the top left square. And if you stay in and your bro goes on a date, you have a night where you drink 17 Natty Lights and watch Classic Pop Up Video on Vh1 at 1 AM until your roommate brings back a perfect model and fucks her so loud you can't hear Natalie Imbruglia singing on the TV anymore.

*[This is only the way a bro who would say 'bros before hoes' would think about the dating world and hanging with his bros.]

Now, these scenarios aren't set in stone. The real world doesn't work EXACTLY like a game from game theory, but it does for the most part. It isn't as if you could collaborate with your roommate to see whats going on for the night. But as we know, it often falls into the "hanging with (females name) tonight."

Here's where I need to clarify. There isn't anything wrong with hanging with a woman or your girlfriend. Theres this stigma attached to it I never understood. But then again, I've never uttered the phrase "bros before hoes" until this blog post. Obviously, though, the phrase exists. So why is it that bros establish something as childish and stupid as BBH, then break it? Its because of the Prisoners Dilemma. By deciding to go out on a date, the bro is improving his lot. He is either going from hanging out alone in his apartment to a date. Or he is improving from hanging with a bro to getting laid. While it may be written in the BBH code of ethics that hanging with your bro and drinking and ordering a pizza is the best thing to do, we so often see idiots who preach the BBH ideology are the ones in relationships; albeit they are rocky, like Sammi and RonRon. This is how it happens.

Girls even got in on the fun, with their lady-like naming of "chicks before dicks." The same idea holds. They believe its better to go to brunches, sip mimosas, and have a night on the town with the girls than it is to get involved with the big mean man who only wants sex. Yet, when Mr. Right, (or in the case of the 1996 Ellen Degeners smash hit, Mr. Wrong), comes along, they will ditch their chicks for the dicks.

I know what you're saying. You're saying "H, it isn't like that. Men just think with their penis. Men only want sex. Women want a man before their biological clock strikes 12." Well thats all bullshit. Thats been indoctrinated into us since day one and anyone who thinks like that is a loser (while me, the person who drinks 17 beers in one night, and watches pop up video and Fresno State vs Nevada Reno on a Saturday night, on the other hand, is of course a winner). Its a fundamental flaw. Bros and women will believe in BBH & CBD, but they also believe that they are improving their situation no matter what by going out on a date. Therefore, they end up dating, which strictly violates BBH/CBD. If every bro/woman behaves this way, we suddenly have a ton of relationships. And then...... actually, theres a lot of things I can say here I'm not gonna say. I feel like I probably already pissed off enough people.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The New Beavis & Butthead Will LIke... Suck and Stuff

The title of this article was the hardest sentence I ever had to write. Its way worse than me ever blasting a sports team that everyone knew I wasn't actually turning my back on, (I've been rumored to have said "fuck the Cubs," or "the Bears suck" as they locked up a 2 seed in the playoffs). No, this was way worse because Beavis and Butthead never did anything to hurt me. Not only that, but they are one of my greatest memories of 1993-1997, and molded me into being the sarcastic asshole I am (I turned 8 years old in 1993). In addition to all this, if I am ever lucky enough to come across a classic B&B episode on MTV2 at 3 AM - with the music videos - I drop everything and watch. And.....I laugh my fucking ass off. I went to see the movie on opening weekend (in the old Orland Square theatre for those Orland readers), quote them to this day, and still watch old YouTubes of them, such as this one, my personal favorite.

So how am I so down on the reincarnation/relaunch? Let me start by saying this, it has less to do with them, and more to do with our current culture.

So often now we hear the term "jump the shark." This is a reference to a "Happy Days" episode where Fonzie improbably jumped over a shark on waterskis, and everyone immediately became disinterested in the once popular show. Now, the phrase represents any time a singer, show, series, film, or any other popular media goes from being good to being bad. I think too many times a show is accused of doing this, while in reality, it isn't guilty of "becoming bad," but more accurately, a change in taste occurs in our culture.

But before I go on, back to Beavis and Butthead. The show will fail for one simple reason. When it was announced that the show would be returning, a major detail was released. Beavis and Butthead would no longer be watching music videos, but instead, would be watching reality shows, YouTubes, UFC, etc. - in other words, what a typical 15-25 year old watches now. At first I said, "this makes sense," as no one watches music videos as they did in 1994, at the height of B&B's popularity. The more I think about it, however, the more I realize this is the reason the show will fail.

My generation, the millennial generation, and the generation which preceded me and followed me (Generation X and Generation Z - really clever with these names, I know), are sarcastic, self-conscious, self-aware, and reflective. While I can spend more than an entire blog discussing the traits we share and why thats both awesome and shitty, I would like to limit my discussion simply to the media we consumed growing up. Think about the most popular shows as you grew up, and the most popular media in your life now.

Undoubtedly, "Seinfeld" and "Friends" were the most popular sit-coms of the 1990s. The shows featured sarcastic characters, usually poking fun at others or commenting on social dynamics. While "Friends" may have been a bit less sarcastic than "Seinfeld," it is very self-reflective, as all of their episodes are entitled "The one.....", an allusion to how people always ask in regards to a series if you've ever seen "the one...." This is very clever, and shows an awareness and appreciation of things past.

From 2001 until the present, where have most of us gotten our entertainment? From a) YouTube/The Internet, b) Reality TV. Neither of these mediums are "scripted," (at least in the way "Seinfeld" was), but they offer the viewer one major satisfaction. We can make fun of the thing we are watching. We didn't make fun of "Seinfeld," (but the characters made fun of other characters). But now, we can take on the persona of Jerry Seinfeld, Chandler Bing, or, you guessed it, Beavis and Butthead, and watch reality tv and make fun of the characters. We can watch any reality show, and say "look how dumb that person is."

Think of both sides of the spectrum - the most popular shows, and the absolute worst shows ever from the past 10 years. The Hills, Jersey Shore, Laguna Beach, Keeping up with the Kardashians, The Bachelor(ette), The Show where two of the three Kardashians take Miami, Bridezillas, Bad Girls Club, Wife Swap, I Didn't Know I was Pregnant, Toddlers & Tiaras, and, every single talent show, including American Idol, X Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, Americas Got Talent, and whatever the hell else.

What is so enjoyable about the aforementioned shows? They're not educational. They're not very funny. They don't have a good cast of characters. They're not clever. The thing that is so enjoyable about them is that we can make fun of them. This seems so obvious, but it bears analysis. We don't watch Kardashians or The Hills to get inspired, cry, or learn something.....we watch so we can make fun. Many people enjoy the talent shows until they "get good" - i.e. the final 10, and only enjoy when wannabes embarrass themselves in front of the judges. Why? I would guess that it makes us feel better about our lot in life - that while we may not be a multi-millionaire, at least we have a brain unlike Kim Kardashian - while at the same time "Kardashians" depicts the life of a 'celebrity', which will never go out of fashion. Or, while we may be a terrible singer, at least we aren't "that bad" - as bad as the guy that makes Simon roll his eyes.

That is an important question, but not necessary for the purposes of this blog post. For the time, I think that we can agree that the plots of the episodes of any reality show such as Kardashians, Ice Loves Coco, the TO show, the Gene Simmons show, etc, are all so radical and sensational that they lend themselves to be made fun of. Every episode has the main character acting dumb, doing dumb things, getting in dumb arguments, participating in seemingly traditional sit-com plots (such as getting a pet and realizing it requires a level of responsibility they do not possess, or having two dates on one night). The point is, we watch to make fun of the celebrities.

The same goes for YouTubes. I don't watch YouTube for the same reason I watch Ozu's "Tokyo Story." I watch for a 2-3 minute diversions. I watch to see a dumb news report. I watch to see someone fall out of a grape mashing pit. I watch to see a girl fall on her ass imitating Tom Cruise in "Risky Business." I watch to see a news report where the victims brother says "hide yo kids, hide yo wife". I watch for every reason that my man Rick has outlined in his website. His website is a great example of our generations' love for YouTubes - and more specifically the 2-3 minute video clips we can all make fun of.

Does this sound familiar? Where else have we seen people watching something for 2-3 minutes at a time, and pointing out all the funny things about it? Yup, we saw it in Beavis and Butthead in 1994. But there is one major difference between what they did and what we are doing.

B&B watched music videos that were either contemporary or up to ten years old. Whichever the case was, however, the video was not intended to be a joke (99% of the time). So in the case of the Journey video above, the band didn't mean to look like a bunch of "fartknockers," but it is immensely funny that they do. No one had really made fun of them when B&B did it in their episode. Now, when they watch an episode of Jersey Shore, or a well known YouTube, the media will have been analyzed and dissected to every end possible. This will lead B&B to be not as funny.

And that isnt their fault. It is ours. It is our culture. In a lot of ways, we have all been bred to be a bunch of Beavis' and Buttheads. "Mystery Science Theater 3000," is the same show/idea. As is the current program "The Soup." Every Friday night, Joel McHale gets on and makes fun of the shows on TV for 30 minutes. Now, B&B are going to do the same thing. Just not as original as they once were......

Similarly, any of us can get together with friends and watch Rambo First Blood Part II, or any other action film of the 1980s, and rip it apart. Or any of the "Friday the 13ths." Or, better yet, "The Room." We have a thirst for shitty or "campy" material, simply for the reasons that we can rip them apart the same way B&B ripped apart music videos in their heyday. This argument isn't to say that any of us are as smart as Mike Judge, or B&B, but it is just to say that the characters' behavior is more commonplace now. The writing still may be sharp, and the observations may still be funnier than anything your friend down the hall may have said during the latest episode of "Glee," but the fact that we are now all a society of sarcastic Beavis and Buttheads takes away from their charm.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Games I Can't Wait to Lose All My Money On

First off, I apologize. Somehow, someway, in the weirdest turn of events ever in the history of this blog, I don't think I pointed out or addressed the fact that the Golden Nugget released early Game of the Year lines. Here they are.

I'm pretty sure I posted these on facebook and twitter, but not on the blog. Which means I didnt have a chance to analyze them.

I'd like to go through a few of them that I have circled with the distinction being "extreme interest." That means, ones that I can already tell I am going to want to bet on. Im going to go through this chronologically, but there should be more early on in the season, and by the end of the season, none, for obvious reasons (shit changes).

Looking at all the early spreads, we can also figure out what Vegas thinks about a few teams, which is worth more than anything you'll ever hear on ESPN. Lets jump in the deep end here:

Week 1:

I like Georgia and LSU right away. As the article indicates, UGA is a team that is getting some sharp love early on. Phil Steele came out and proclaimed UGA to be the SEC East favorite, which may be surprising to some who had South Carolina pegged as the favorite. UGA had a pretty unlucky year last year with several close losses, all the while playing with a freshman QB (albeit a good one). But the team started 1-4 and finished 6-7. They have 12 starters back. And best of all, the game is in Atlanta.

Here's the thing. I like to try and figure out who the sharps are betting on, and follow them. Why? Because theyre the sharps. It would be like following what an insider trader is doing in the stock market. Or, conversely, think of it this way. You know the 60 year old guy you meet at the bar who has nothing better to do than to talk to you about football and pull out a computer printed sheet of his weekly NFL survivor pool that leaves the bar every 20 minutes to smoke a cigarette and by half time of the 4 PM EST NFL games is so drunk he is hitting on a waitress 1/3 his age? I try to do the opposite of that guy.

Also, I try to do the opposite of anything Bill Simmons does.

Picture Joe Public in Las Vegas in June and July. Joe Public goes to Vegas. Joe Public plays blackjack. Joe Public plays in a $180 Caesar's Hold Em tournament, and usually doesnt know when it is his turn or that his hand is shaking when he throws chips into the middle of the table. Joe Public may go to the sportsbook and bet on a 3 - 11 team MLB parlay, the team to eventually win the World Series, and the team to win the Super Bowl and BCS title.


Joe Public does not go to Vegas to bet on Georgia in the first week of the season. They want to bet on their hometown team or a team they think has a good chance to win the title at 20+ - 1 odds to win the title in the hopes of "hitting it big." They dont bet on individual games the same way they would if they were visiting Las Vegas in October.

Therefore, when the line moves from Boise State -6 to Boise State -1.5, it is obvious that the sharps are the ones on Georgia. The eventual outcome of this is obvious too. In 4 weeks, when Joe Public starts to look at the Week 1 games in NCAA, they will first see that Boise is playing Georgia. They will seeBoise, who went 12-1 last year, "always wins an early game against a BCS team" (even though they lost to UGA by 100000 points in 2005), is always involved in the national title race, against an underachieving UGA team, with their coach on the hot seat, who lost to UCF last year, and insert any other illogical irrelevant argument here, and will bet HEAVILY on Boise. Therefore, as is always the case, Las Vegas wins. Just make sure you're on the side of the sharps.

To a lesser extent, I like LSU against Oregon in Week 1. If a game moves off a "key" number, such as 3, it is significant. *** The idea here is that some numbers are more important than others. You can guess that 3, 7, 10, 14, are all key numbers, while 4, 5, 12, are not. Simmons calls the non important numbers 'the vegas zone,' but no one else does. So if the game is on a key number such as Oregon -3, and it moves to Oregon -2, there must have been significant action to move it off a key number, despite it moving only one point.

Theres a very good chance that LSU was just as good as Oregon last year, despite them going "only" 11-2 and playing in the Cotton Bowl while Oregon was the runner up. Whats always important early on is returning starters, and LSU returns 15 while Oregon returns 11. LSU also has a better defense, which usually wins out early in the year. I feel like this could be a Joe PUblic game as well, as many will be quick to pick Oregon as "only" a 2 point favorite when they all realize that the Ducks played in the title game last year.

Miami -3.5 on the opening Monday seems like a big trap. Miami, with all its history, should be attractive to joe public as they play a team that replaces their coach and only lost to Miami by 6 in the Orange Bowl last year (covering the 8). What people will of course forget is that Miami themselves has a new Head Coach. This is the only game on Monday night too. Whenever that happens, there is even more action on a team, and all the more likely a trap occurs.

Week 2

The Mizzou ASU game will be interesting. Thats all I have to say. Every day I flip flop on my outlook on ASU. I dont think theyll be as great as everyone says they are going to be, but that doesnt mean they wont be good...(considering I was the only person who liked them last year).

Alabama -9 at Penn State may be the right number after all. I would have thought sharps would have bet this down to about 7.5, but they didnt. I still feel as if the public will be all over Alabama (who will be ranked 1 or 2), but it shows that there is still respect for Penn State and their home field. 9 is a ton of points too.

MSU +1 @ Auburn. MSU played AUburn as close as anyone last year (I took MSU and followed the game on my phone in class on a Thursday night. I lost the bet, but got an A in the class, go figure). I talked about MSU on this blog earlier. They are interesting because they return 16 starters from a 9 win team. Any other world this would be enough to rank the team in the top 10 in every preseason poll (for close examples: FSU returns 16 from a 10 win team in an easier conference, and A&M returns 18 from a 9 win team in a worse conference. Each of those teams is getting much more love than MSU). But, Miss State plays in the SEC west. Their schedule features no less than 5 swing games.

None of this should affect them being better than Auburn, however. Auburn figures to be poor this year. Why? Because their over under is set at 6. BEcause of movement in this game. Because of movement in the UGA game. Because of the movement in the Clemson game. BEcause of the movement against So Carolina Because they return SIX starters.

But, does the public know this? Sure they know Auburn is down, but "they wont lose to Miss State." Not so fast. Basically everyone in Las Vegas is betting against Auburn this year. They figure to still receive financial backing from Joe Public, as they DID win the title last yera.

Air Force +1.5 TCU. This is my favorite game on the board. First the line movement of 5 points. Re-read all the stuff I wrote about how public wouldnt bet on a UGA Boise game. Now, imagine them betting on TCU Air Force..... Who bet that line down? Thats right, the sharps.

Air Force is considered one of the most underrated teams this year. They return 14 starters while TCU only returns 8. BUt of course, Mr. Public will rememeber that TCU won something called the Rose Bowl last year.

I think the fact that ND went from +2 to -3 is a misprint. Otherwise that doesnt bode well for the Irish. Michigan figures to be improved this year as well. They are at home and have won 2 straight years. If it moved 5 points, across the zero-line, and now features Michigan as an underdog at home against a rival, then I am sorry, but I have to lean Michigan.

The OU -3.5 FSU week 3 sounds about right. ND -6 against MSU seems a little high, as nine of the last eleven have been decided by single digits, and the home team is just 3-7 in last 10.

Going beyond this would be dumb, as so many things will change. Notably, public perception. BUt I can point out a few things here.

- How are TCU, AM, AF related? AF is basically even against TCU. SMU is +17 early against A&M, and SMU is +12 against TCU. So A&M is a bit better than TCU. But is TCU bad, and that is why they're only a bit better than AF? Or is AF that good? In other words, are these teams are ranked in the teens and twenties? Or is AM's early ranking in the top 10 valid, and AF is legit a top 15 team? The fact that AM is a big -6 against Okie State tells me that maybe AF is for real.

- Stanford is going to be a disappointment. They are only +1 at home vs Oregon (while LSU is +2 at a neutral). Their line moved down at home against ND. Theyre only -2 at USC. All of these lines are oddly low. While they were playing as well as anyone LAST YEAR, they only return 11 starters, and only 1 offensive lineman.

I know I wrote this disjointed. If you were a media analyst, you would say that the disjointed writing reflects the euphoria and excitement one has when first viewing betting lines for a week. Your pupils move up and down the board, looking at yellow and green lights in an attempt to decipher hundreds of numbers in 5 minutes. Somehow, someway, you memorize every line in 5 minutes, after looking at each thing once. If you said that's why my blog was written so poorly, I would agree.

What else do you see from the early lines that jumps out at you?